Never once in my life have I been naturally cool. Any essence of coolness that I give off is totally and completely fabricated and I’m fairly certain I’m not even convincing when I try. This has always been my life — I was that kid who brought a book with me everywhere, be it a restaurant, a party, or a fishing day with dad (sorry Daddio). I spent my recesses during elementary school in the library, trying to have the most Accelerated Reader points in my entire grade. For my fifth grade birthday party, I legitimately wanted to drive two hours to Olympia to tour the state capital building (what child actually wants that??). And being the child nerd that I was, my most prized possession in life was my American Girl doll.
I was given Felicity as a Christmas present when I was four years old. This was huge, as I had been drooling over my older cousin’s Kirsten doll for months, and even at age four I knew American Girl dolls were not cheap. But oh how blissfully happy I was when I ripped open the wrapping paper on that box. Felicity might very well be my first true love in life. I took her everywhere. No, literally, it really was everywhere. I hiked with her, I baked with her, I would snuggle up in a blanket with her after taking a bath. I would even take her on plane flights with me. I incessantly poured over the American Girl catalog every time it arrived in the mail, absorbing all the details about her and the other dolls. I devoured her stories. I loved that she was passionate and wasn’t afraid to break the rules to do what was right. I still credit her for instilling in me a fascination with anything pertaining with the American Revolution, which is true even today. For years I did absolutely nothing in life without Felicity, because she was this nerdy child’s dream come true.
Although I didn’t fully understand it at the time, Felicity and the other American Girl dolls had a fundamental hand in shaping how I saw myself. I read each doll’s books, fascinated by how different their lives were from mine, and yet they seemed just like me. Those books were perhaps the first stories I ever read that taught me about inequality and injustice in the world. They laid the foundation for little nerdy Haylie to feel empowered about being a girl.
With all that being said, if you’re anything like me, you haven’t thought about the American Girl dolls in well over decade. But you should. Because it turns out that in the years since I first fell in love with Felicity, this company has been expanding in profoundly important ways. They have been creating new dolls with new stories, both historical and modern, that focus on girls from every walk of life. There are dolls of vastly different ethnicities, different passions and interests, different socioeconomic backgrounds and different family lives. And most recently they have started creating special order dolls for some incredibly special girls:
Watching this video, I fell in love with my American Girl doll all over again (and also cried, nbd). Not only because of what Felicity meant to me then, but because of what this company means to me now. I had no idea at four years old that my Christmas wish for a historical doll was something that would empower me as I grew in to a woman, and now to see the creation of dolls for girls who go through life constantly feeling different and unrepresented in the world makes me a puddle of goo and emotions. American Girl, you are the coolest of the cool, the raddest of the rad. Hands down, there is no toy I would advocate for more strongly. I cannot wait to see how this company continues to grow and expand, because someday these will be the dolls that my children are going to have. I guess nerdy little Haylie may have had a smidge of natural cool taste, after all.
And hey, you should definitely check out their website and see all the coolness they have going on at American Girl.